Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 17th, 2018

China, ASEAN Navies Stage 1st Emergency Drills amid Feud

China, ASEAN Navies Stage  1st Emergency Drills amid Feud

SINGAPORE — Chinese and Southeast Asian naval forces staged their first computer-simulated drills so they can jointly respond to emergencies and build trust amid the long-seething disputes in the South China Sea.
The two-day exercises that ended Friday involved more than 40 sailors from China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. They worked on search and rescue scenarios following a mock ship collision.
Singapore’s navy hosted the drills at a training center in Changi naval base, where officers coordinated their force deployments and helicopter landings on navy ships. They monitored developments on three giant screens, including one showing the location of a collision between an oil tanker, which supposedly caught fire, and a passenger ship that sank and scattered people in the high seas.
It’s a successful prelude to actual maneuvers at sea that are planned for October in China, said Col. Lim Yu Chuan of the Singapore navy.
“The exercise is beneficial to promote military exchanges and cooperation between China and ASEAN member states, to advance our mutual trust,” Capt. Liang Zhijia from the People’s Liberation Army Navy told reporters.
Organizers did not directly link the exercises to the territorial disputes, which escalated after China turned seven disputed reefs into man-made islands, including three with runways. They now resemble bases with buildings and weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, and have sparked protests, including from rival claimants.
China and ASEAN have held talks for years to try to ease tensions and prevent the disputes from degenerating into open conflicts. During the annual meeting of their foreign ministers in Singapore Thursday, an agreement was announced on an initial draft of a “code of conduct,” a set of rules to discourage aggression and reduce chances of accidental clashes and miscalculations. (AP)